It was a long time coming, but I finally made it to Chin Chin.
If you’re Melbournian and you don’t know about Chin Chin, I must politely ask if you’ve been under a rock for the past year. Chin Chin serves mostly Southern Thai cuisine (with other Asian influences thrown in) in a Flinders Lane location. The fitout is great – large windows, brick walls, decorated with graphics utilising elements from Chinese propaganda posters and Japanese cartoons, and tables hold bottles of hot sauce plus paper placemats that double as the menu. Very groovy.
As Chin Chin don’t take bookings. if you want to visit on a Friday/Saturday night (or probably any night, to be honest…) it could mean 1-2 hours wait. You know waiting isn’t my thing, so along with Alastair, Thanh and Thanh’s friend, we rocked up at 11.10am on a Sunday, arriving just as the restaurant opened.
We pondered the menu, and eventually ordered several dishes between the four of us. Truthfully: we ordered a bit too much. But the menu at Chin Chin is quite long and everything sounded so good.
We had been told by others that the school prawns with nahm prik pla gapi, herbs and crudites ($12) were good, so that was our first dish. I LOVED the sauce – spicy and fishy – it had so much flavour. The prawns were good, as school prawns mostly are, and they were interestingly served with crudites. Which, by the way, are awesome eaten with lots of the sauce. Delicious. We didn’t eat the herbs though.
The pork roll ups – red braised suckling pig with pancakes, slaw and Asian herbs ($18) came with four pancakes and a generous amount of meat. They were pretty good.
We had also been told to order the crispy barramundi and green apple salad with caramelised pork, chilli and lemongrass ($26). The pork in particular was fantastic. It was quite sweet but so damn good. The fish was interesting – fried and crispy. It was a good salad, though it needed to be eaten altogether for balance. Separately, it seemed a bit salty.
We also had a serve of Son in law eggs with chilli jam ($8). This was a serve of three small eggs, soft boiled, deepfried and halved. These were good too and the chilli jam had a nice spicy kick.
The green curry of grilled chicken with salted duck eggs, pea eggplant, kaffir lime leaf and Thai basil ($25) was a pretty good version though just a touch sweet for my liking (but that could be my taste preference). We didn’t order rice, but it showed up with two bowls so I assume it automatically comes with rice.
The Indian style barbecued goat with cucumber and mint raita ($28) was a big plate of goat meat. It was really delicious. It was also quite sweet and quite salty – a bit much eaten by itself but excellent eaten with rice.
The twice cooked Hopkins River beef short rib with coriander and prik nahm pla ($29) was amazing. Order this! The meat was so, so tender, as well as being fatty and moist. It had slightly charred edges and was sweet and salty too. Omg. However, the accompanying sauce was unnecessary and was overly salty. The meat was much, much better without it.
We should’ve stopped there: we were quite full already. But we pushed through the fullness barrier and ordered two desserts.
We had a platter of little sweet things ($13). On the plate was caramel popcorn, small coconut jellies and possibly palm sugar cakes? The jellies were okay, and the little cakes were just okay as well. The popcorn had a touch too much caramel. Yes, that is possible, as I discovered after chewing on a piece of popcorn for a full five minutes.
We also ordered the palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb and lime syrup ($14). Sadly, this wasn’t good at all – the bottom layer of ice cream (possibly made from very dark palm sugar?) was too strong and bitter.
Based on the two we sampled, desserts were a bit of a fizzer. Nevermind. The rest of the meal was really good and I’m so glad I finally visited. I definitely need another visit to sample more from the menu – even after we were completely stuffed we were looking at the menu and going, “Oh that looks good. Oooh. So does that.” Etc.
Go and go early. It’s worth a visit.
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125 Flinders Lane
Phone: 03 8663 2000